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What are the primary motivations for becoming an indie game developer? What are the major barriers?

After reading several "going indie" stories, I wanted to learn more about what makes developers want to become indie.

Daniel Fedor, Blogger

August 27, 2011

2 Min Read

Recently, I read the article http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/08/experience-going-indie.ars. In it, interviewees cite their reasons for leaving mainstream game developers to become indies. As I read, I wondered. "Which are the strongest motivators for becoming an indie game developer? Are most developers looking for the same things in their work? What barriers are preventing them from becoming an indie? And what can studios learn from indies to make a better home for developers?"

This is a topic near to my heart, as I recently made the transition from mainstream to indie dev as well. I had some very strong feelings which motivated my move, but were they mine alone? Reading the above article, as well as the many indie interviews and blogs, reveals many of the same motivations. Maybe there is some useful information in this topic, for indies and studios alike?

I searched a bit for statistics on this data, but when I didn't find any, I decided to put something together myself. This survey is intended to illustrate which are the stronger vs. weaker motivators for becoming an indie developer. The questions and responses are written based on the above article, various indie start-up interviews, and anecdotal observations.

The survey can be found here:

Motivations for Becoming an Indie Game Developer Survey

And in the spirit of sharing, you can view real-time results here:

Survey Results for Motivations for Becoming an Indie Game Developer

With any luck, the data collected by this survey can serve as education for several audiences:

  • Where do indies come from? Mostly studios? Schools? Other industries?

  • What are the major benefits and drawbacks to being indie, in the minds of those who are or are considering becoming indie?

  • What can game studios learn about what they're doing right and wrong to retain their talent?

  • What can writers and editors of publications focus on to have larger relevance to indie developers? (e.g. do indies need more content centered on indie business management?)

And as a final note, if you're reading the survey, and think I've missed something, feel free to add it as an "other" answer in the relevant question, or comment directly on the blog post. It's only version #1, so I've likely missed some things.

Thanks for reading!

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